Euphoria, ecstatic healing and radical self-love? Holy Cacao, tell me more.
After having the honour of preparing cacao for a shamanic wedding in Chile last month, I couldn't not share my love for this ritual. This blog post breaks down everything you need to know about a cacao ceremony. From what cacao is, what a ceremony looks like, and how to host your very own at home.
But first, let me tell you a secret. If you haven't already tuned in, catch my latest podcast episode. Find out about my surrender to self-care over the past 2 moon cycles, and more importantly, find out The Biggest Self-Care Secret No One will Tell You.
a sacred medicinal ritual, where cacao will be prepared into a bitter-sweet delicious drink. Negative emotions are released, good intentions are defined, and we connect to ourselves and the loving energy in our body.
Aztec and Mayan cultures, 14th-16th centuries. It was shared by the Olmec people [first major civilisation in Mexico], who used it as a ceremonial medicine for: good health, inner awakening and creative guidance.
For the Love of Cacao
You may have heard your yoga teacher, witchy friend or herbal therapist tell you that cacao is a great heart opener, and they weren’t wrong. There are certain active ingredients that help release ‘feel good’ hormones that help create feelings of emotional intimacy and pleasure.
cacao is a great heart opener
No, it's not the same as chocolate - but chocolate does come from cacao. Cacao has long been considered a luxurious delicacy, but society has profited from cutting it into fancy shapes, adding a tonne of sugar, cow's milk, and wrapping it in plastic. Still, unbeknowingly, we’ve enjoyed small fractions of cacao’s potential every time we’ve indulged into a regular chocolate bar. And yes, this is where the romantic chocolate gestures came from!
Cacao beans are what goes into the chocolate we are familiar with, but usually only 20-30%. Ritual cacao is made from 100% ground cacao beans, naturally high in iron, magnesium and B-complex vitamins.
Before we dive into the cauldron of reasons to host a cacao ceremony, let’s find out the
Health Benefits of Cacao
My top 5 mind-blowing facts about cacao:
40 Times the Antioxidants of Blueberries
Highest Plant-Based Source of Iron
More Calcium than Cow's Milk
Full of Magnesium for a Healthy Heart & Brain
A Natural Mood Elevator and Anti-Depressant
Raw cacao is a natural and ancient plant medicine, and a powerful antioxidant with a high concentration of vitamins and minerals. Cacao increases blood flow (oxygen + nutrients) to the brain as well as inducing the release of feel-good endorphins. It helps boost the immune system and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. It is also naturally packed with caffeine, meaning it can give you a bump of healthy energy for better focus and improved memory.
What is the immediate psychological effect?
One of the main active ingredients that we experience in our physiology during ceremony is Theobromine. Theobroma literally translates to ‘Food’ (Theo) ‘of Gods’ (broma) in Greek, and potentiates the release of dopamine, the 'pleasure hormone'. This released alongside phenethylamine, known to help relieve stress and depression, assists the experience of emotional euphoria through heightened sensation and empathy. What’s more, the high amount of nutrients in the cacao support and nourish the body, whilst also inducing a detoxifying effect on the liver and kidneys.
How does this impact our emotions?
As expected from such euphoria inducing ingredients, the emotional impact can be profound. Both the physical and emotional body can feel a heightened sensitivity, creating a deep sense of self and heart space awareness. Experiencing love and empathy, particularly for yourself, is the most commonly talked about effect.
Cacao facilitates a deep sense of self-love
It can feel as though your heart is opening up, and with this opening, the body can become flooded with the emotions stored in the heart. So, it’s not always an easy experience when painful things come through, but it is a healing one. Cacao facilitates a deep sense of self-love, tears are always followed by smiles of deep gratitude. Other times, the sheer ecstasy felt from the cacao can only be described as bliss. It all depends on you, the timing, and the intentions.
It all depends on you, the timing, and the intentions
What happens at a Cacao Ceremony?
It’s not all hippy woowoo, holding hands and singing - and, sometimes it is! Like most brought-back-from-the-dead and modernised rituals, a cacao ceremony will vary depending on the host, the place, and the people involved. Some shamans bring a powerful five element dance journey, others work with meditation, and others (it me) might work with crystals, tarot and earth elements. In any case, a cacao ceremony will usually involve sitting in a sacred circle, honouring the cacao spirit with shamanic prayer or meditation, and humbly setting intentions for good personal change.
Cacao as Magick Medicine
At the core of any cacao ceremony is an opportunity to connect more deeply to yourself, and open your heart. By strengthening your connection to your inner self and heart chakra, cacao can help any transformational shift you are working towards.
cacao can help any transformational shift you are working towards
Often, it’s used to deepen one’s understanding of who they are now, and who they are becoming. Cacao works through a change of perspective, enabling you to recognise and let go of old negative energy patterns, heal from trauma, and move into a more self-confident space.
How is the Cacao prepared?
Cacao is usually prepared in a liquid form, and drank together. Like a rich, decadent Hot Chocolate, but without the sugar rush & sickly feeling. A ceremonial dose per person is approx. 15-30g of ethically harvested high grade cacao, mixed with water or organic plant mylk into a drink. Traditionally, cacao was served with chilli and honey.
Think of the cacao like the phone line between you and your soul, where confusion can meet clarity, and intentions plant themselves to start a little creative fire. Whatever it is you bring to a ceremony, the cacao offers you insight and awareness to move towards that goal. Not only that, the confidence you gain from the cacao will help you expand into all other areas of your life too.
Your At Home Cacao Ceremony Guide
Unless you’re in Bali, I’m guessing cacao ceremonies aren’t a common Saturday night thing. So, bring home the cacao home! Get your mates around, ya’ local witch gang, and ready the night for some sacred self-care with the help of cacao. Equally, there’s no reason why you can’t host a ceremony for one, I do it all the time. Lastly, you don’t need to do everything in this guide. Your ceremony is yours to tailor, and sometimes it can be as simple just preparing yourself a cuppa' hot cacao with a loving intention.
Setting the Space:
Once you’ve decided what room or space to hold the ceremony in, you’ll want to make it extra cosy and snug for a safe, calming vibe. It’s important to have a clean and tidy space, as clutter can be distracting. It’s good to smudge the space with cleansing incense like sage or sandalwood. Or, perhaps you’ll choose aromas that align with your intentions. Other methods of cleansing the space is through sound, dissolving any stagnant or negative energy through chanting, drums, a singing bowl and more (see end of post for more info). Likewise, we want to charge up the vibe with positive, healing energy. I like to use candles and crystals, but you can use anything you find calming to look at.
Preparing the Cacao:
15-30g high grade 100% cacao per serving (can be powder or block)
200-300ml mylk (best for taste are coconut or cashew)
Pinch of chilli (and whatever other spices align with your intentions)
Ethically harvested honey or agave, or coconut sugar
Cacao was traditionally prepared with chili and honey. If you’re feeling extra witchy, combine it with other herbs or spices to assist a particular journey. My favourite recipes include cinnamon for creative fire and enhanced sexual energy, rose petals for radical self-love, clove for protection of negative energies and greater courage, cardamom to heat the body and prevent illness.
Cacao Powder Method: Prepare the cacao with a meditative and reflective mindset. Create a paste with the cacao by whisking it with small amounts of mylk. Once fully wet and smooth, add the rest of the mylk and continue whisking medium heat until slightly frothy, do not allow the mylk to boil. Add the pinch of chili, your sweetener of choice and spices.
Block Cacao Method: Prepare the cacao with a meditative and reflective mindset. Heat the mylk in a pot, do not boil. Add the cacao and stir until you find a smooth texture. Whisk over medium heat until slightly frothy. Add the pinch of chili, your sweetener of choice and spices.
Serve in your loveliest of cups, mugs, coconut shells, whatever brings you joy.
Begin by cleansing your energy field. This can be done through smudging sage all around your body, or any other method you might be familiar with, like feather stroking, energy medicine, etc. (see end of post for more info).
Get into a prayer position on the floor and express gratitude for the cacao, for earth, for spirit, and anything else that might come to mind.
Sit in a circle (or anywhere you like if alone), and say out loud something you are releasing. I like to say I am releasing, rather than I wish to release, for positive psychology.
Be still for a few moments. Then focus on what you’re calling in, through the cacao. Say out loud, your intentions, what it is you are inviting into your life.
Enjoy the cacao with every sip, knowing it is manifesting a change in your reality. Enjoy the time in the circle, leaving it open for anyone to share in a safe space. It could be sharing emotionally, talking about life; sharing ideas and thoughts, or sharing creatively; stories and poetry. If you’re having a private just-for-yourself ritual, it’s a great time to journal, use the Tarot, or create art.
How to end the ceremony is up to you, whether through dance, chanting or holding hands. But it is important to close once again with gratitude, for the cacao, earth and spirit (whatever spirit means to you; your life force).
I hope you've enjoyed this Blog Post and feel super inspired to make your own at home cacao ceremony. If you do, I would absolutely love to hear about it. Any questions? Just drop me a line. I like to coincide my ceremonies with the New or Full Moon, they work great for both.
Love & Moonlight for the Cycle ahead, remember to take time to breathe out, make yourself your highest priority,
and always, always,
- Handle with Care